This post is written by Mona Abutaleb, a local Awareness Guide and Somatic Therapy practitioner. She supports people in becoming aware of themselves as a whole: aware of their patterns, their passions, and what living in alignment feels like for them. One of the ways she offers this work is through Somatic Therapy.
Somatic Therapy is a practice that supports you in becoming fluent with the language of your body. Our bodies hold infinite wisdom within them, and by learning to tune into that wisdom, we can learn how to support ourselves in moments of extreme anxiety or fear, as well as learn how to recognize what support and pleasure feels like in our bodies. This practice doesn’t just help you tune into your body; it is also a practice that trains and strengthens your nervous system as it moves from freeze, into fight or flight, and then into regulation (this is the natural progression of a fear response.)
Our bodies and nervous systems are currently experiencing a lot of stress, some unconscious, from the strain of living through this pandemic, as well as from the lack of in-person connection we are experiencing. Something that our nervous systems so intelligently do when we are around other people is co-regulate. For example, say you’re experiencing some anxiety or fear, which is causing you to want to leave a certain situation (flight) or put your defense up (fight).
If you find yourself around someone else who is experiencing a sense of calm and support, through an interaction or maybe a gentle conversation, your nervous systems will automatically link up and you may begin to feel a sense of calm and ease. That’s called co-regulation, and it’s not something that you can achieve through a screen. So during these times of living through the pandemic, it is incredibly important to learn how to self-regulate, which means, how to notice that you’re experiencing fear or anxiety (for example) and know how to self-regulate to bring you to a place of feeling support and ease.
- Begin your day with some slow, long, and deep breaths – take a moment first thing in the morning, before looking at any screens or getting distracted by things outside of yourself, to sit down (maybe in your bed) and take a few breaths. Follow your breath through your body and notice any sensations you may be having. Maybe there’s a grumble in your tummy. Allow yourself the space to really notice what that grumble is like in your body. Where is it? Is there movement? A temperature? Get curious.
- Notice when you’ve hit a nerve – as the day goes on, notice if something may have hit a nerve. Again, allow yourself to take some time with yourself and your body here. What is happening in my body? Am I feeling anger or sadness? Where am I feeling that in my body?
- Spend some time doing conscious movement – whether it’s yoga, stretching, running, walking, etc, allow yourself to tune in and notice each part of your body through the movement. What am I feeling as my foot touches the ground here? Where do I feel the impact of my foot hitting the ground in my body? Where is my breath?
- Take time to thank your body parts – this could be in the shower, when you’re stretching, really whenever you find the time. Take a few moments to touch your feet, thank them and tell them you love them, Do the same with each one of your body parts and notice what you feel when you do so.
- Spend time with animals – animals are a great support to the nervous system. For example, if you’re feeling really sad and scared, try petting a cat or a dog, or a horse! The stroking of something soft helps to regulate your nervous system. And again, as you do so, begin to notice what happens in your body.
Experiencing any kind of intense emotions are completely normal and understandable, especially these days. When we live in a space of being in constant fight or flight or freeze mode, it numbs us from being fully present and fully experiencing what’s happening both within and around us. Through Somatic Therapy, we can learn to tune into and acknowledge those feelings and sensations, where they may be located in our bodies, and develop the skills to give our bodies what they need. That may look like breath, movement, feeling physical support, singing, a gentle touch, etc. Each of our bodies are unique and need different things in each moment. Somatic Therapy supports us in learning exactly that.
These are just a few tips and tricks. Take your time and be incredibly gentle with yourself. If there’s one thing all of our bodies want from us, it’s ease and gentleness. If you’re interested in learning more, feel free to reach out for more information or to book a session. I am currently offering free consultations and sliding scale Awakened Body sessions virtually.